Pocket Easel: Best Apps For Design And Illustration
Since mobile devices went touchable, designers discovered and appreciated the new possibilities it brought. So it was long before iPad Pro that tablets (and even phones if large enough) became a designer’s tools, equipped with specific apps for design. Drawing and making collages, processing colors and selecting fonts, making simple sketches and complicated layered projects are possible with modern Android and Apple mobiles. So here are some apps that review the way design works.
Adobe Photoshop Express (and other Photoshop apps)
The name that has become a common noun, Photoshop is now available on mobile devices. Although its performance is defined by hardware limitations (the publisher admits it with “Express” in the name), the app is still powerful. Express version is, in fact, a pop-style editor that allows adjusting brightness, saturation, color and other parameters, crop photos, add frames and filters – that is, rather an adaptation for the Instagram generation.
Here comes a set of other apps from Adobe Photoshop family. Photoshop Mix offers what we appreciate in desktop Photoshop, that is, combining fragments of different pictures in a layered project. Photoshop Fix is a powerful tool for repairing portrait photos and making them perfect. Lightroom CC, being basically similar to Photoshop Express, offers more fine tuning options. Adobe Creative Cloud is supported, so you can store your source files and projects off your device.
Not that it sounds professional (especially for those familiar with desktop version), though, if you need a tuned picture for your Facebook or Instagram account on the go, you’ll be good with mobile Photoshop apps.
Take your sharp stylus and prepare to draw. Your iPad or Galaxy Tab combines the power of a PC and the comfort of paper. Adobe Illustrator Draw is a bit simplified version of a desktop analog. The app is ready for use with advanced styluses (like Apple Pencil or Samsung S Pen), but even if you use an ordinary one, you can adjust your line and strike in Settings.
While the app is about drawing, first of all, it offers rich editing features. You can zoom your drawing in and out, erase wrong strikes, process colors and line parameters, apply effects to fragments of your picture, organize layers, adjust their saturation and transparency, and import both vector and bitmap files.
And, of course, it’s compatible with Adobe clouds and desktop apps (including Photoshop), so you can make a simple sketch while away and then return to finer work with it when at your office or home.
One of the best apps for professional drawing is mobile as well. It’s all about drawing, automatizing process as much as it goes, and it’s stuffed with tools. Pencils and brushes, shapes and erasers, inks and colors, all of them are one tap away; but while you’re drawing, all the controls hide away to be summoned again when you need them.
With all the riches the mobile version has, your project may need some reworking with desktop apps. Well, you can save your projects in versatile formats, suitable both for exporting and for reworking on other platforms and with other software. The app can even export your projects as PSD files for later editing in Photoshop or compatible apps.
The full version of SketchBook is now free, so come on, take your chance! And if you want more, here comes the net one by Autodesk.
Being the industry default for drafting, design, and engineering, AutoCAD is one of the most famous too since 1982. Now it’s mobile, with all its professional tools to work with 2D and 3D drafts as DWG files. It’s hard to find an architect or an interior designer unfamiliar with AutoCAD today. The app lets you create models of 3D objects and environments, combine them, edit parameters, measure real objects to fit them into your projects, and so on.
The mobile AutoCAD is powerful, but most of its tools are paid and only available in Premium version (you can try it for a week). Pro designers will appreciate its full compatibility with workstation version, while the mobile app is quite self-sufficient to work offline.
Unlike “real” vector graphic apps for design, this one is up for a bit of cheating (though it depends on your goals). It looks like an Insta-like entertaining app that turns a photo from your gallery into a pencil sketch in one out of four styles. But this one-tap transformation is just the top of what this app is capable of. It features a good sketch editor, so you can start from a pure leaf, or add some strikes your sketchified photo obviously lacks.
If you need a simple illustration or a comic picture reminding yourself or some of your friends, this app is a perfect solution. Even more: you can make a sketch out of some photo to send it to your, say, Adobe Illustrator collage.
The feature of Assembly is a great number of premade elements one can use in vector design. Circles and ellipses, lines, angles and polygons, and more complicated shapes are available for Assembly users as template components. So you can save a lot of time by not redrawing these basic shapes manually, and go straight to assembling your whole picture and adding final strikes to make it complete.
This collage view can be very fruitful when taken seriously, and there’s nothing bad or criminal about using predesigned elements, especially if you’re short on time. So Assembly is worth your attention because it makes the dullest part of your work instead of you.
When drawing posters or meme pictures, postcards or caricatures, fonts are not to be neglected, as they may set the whole mood of your picture. Funny or gloomy, calling to action or to relaxation, aggressive or peaceful, futuristic, modern or ancient, they enhance the immersive effect of your pictures. Font Candy has a great curated font collection, and besides that, you can enhance your font of choice by color, shadow, frames, spacing, and other elements.
Aside from font collection, it’s a good graphic editor that even works with layers (a separate one for each text, of course, plus combined images). You can create memes with your own photos or with those you find on the Internet, and then easily share your works in social media.
1 Pantone Color Book/ PANTONE Studio
Colors are serious, and Pantone is the official system of color nomenclature accepted by world’s designer community. If your art is about to be printed or materialized in the real world, you should care about their colors being the same on your screen and before your eyes. Pantone offers the best systematic view of color, bridging the gap between pure art and pure industry. And these apps translate your color vision into Pantonese, offering catalogs, showing references and building Pantone-compatible palettes. If you stick to Pantone-approved colors in your designs, chances are your objects printed/painted and digitally designed will look the same.
This time we offer you two different apps by different developers, but both bring you the digital representation of PANTONE-approved and listed colors.
Collage is a special kind of art, and Fuzel app offers the full specter of tools you’ll need to make an object out of two or more pictures. It can be comics, a sequence of photos, a day or year photo overview, and so on. Fuzel allows up to 100 photos in one collage, so it’s up to you whether you need so many elements in one picture (unless you plan a puzzle).
To make it all make sense, you can add text captions to each collage element, control its size, color, and other parameters, process each picture of the collage separately, add frames, effects, stickers and other elements, including animation tools. You only need to apply your sense of good taste. And then publish your masterpieces directly from the app.
Yes, the famous note-taking app can be a designer’s choice too. First of all remember that it supports handwriting, so you can draw your sketch as well, and the app will keep this record. And if you use a pro stylus, the app will uncover its full potential.
Of course, Evernote has less professional design tools than, say, Adobe’s projects, Yet you can create your project in Evernote and accompany it with your written, typed or spoken comments, import pictures, link your notes to other documents and share them with other users, or across your own devices. So, as a primary draft tool, Evernote has its potential. Multiplied by its social and teamwork features, Evernote can be considered a must. Not being 100% design-oriented (it’s a note-taking service, after all), it’s great for organizing everything around your designer activity. Examples attachable to private or public notes, of course.
In this selection, we compiled the most general suggestions, mostly cross-platform and meant for the most demanded tasks. Some specific types of drawing, photo processing, and illustration may require other apps for design, so you probably know a couple not mentioned above. So why not give them some time in comments?